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A snapshot taken by the author at Mentone, March, 1919 




Some Personal Recollections 

of a Private Secretary 





London, New York, Toronto and Melbourne 

PrtHttd in dial Britain 



I T0 


whom he loved 






IT is an impertinence for me to attempt a pen 
picture of my Chief, Lord Northcliffe. No one 
person could do justice to that marvellous per- 
sonality, even in several volumes. More able 
pens than mine have written, and will write, of 
his great achievements. All I attempt is to 
take the great public, whom he loved so dearly, 
into my confidence, and let them see him as I 
knew him, as a human person with many 
faults, but very small ones compared to his 
wonderful generous nature, and charming 

In March, 1902, I applied to him for 
the post of private secretary. It was pre- 
sumptuous of me, as I was untrained, but 
my only excuse was, that having been brought 
up in the atmosphere of newspapers, the 
paper and ink had penetrated to my very 

The Real Lord Nor the life 

My mother died when I was a small child. 
My father died before my school days should 
have ended, and I was faced with the problem 
of earning my living, in addition to having the 
care of two younger sisters. I think all people 
have a natural talent for some one thing. I 
knew mine was for clothes. Without being 
taught I could design, cut out and make any 
garment, make it so that not even the sharp 
eyes of my friends could detect the amateur 
hand. I was tempting Providence by not 
utilizing this gift, but my heart wasn't in it. 
Even in my poorest days I parted with my 
spare pennies to buy newspapers. I hated to 
feel after my father's death that I was drifting 
away from the core of things. 

My first impression of Alfred Harmsworth 
was his kindliness, and soft cultivated voice. 
I can see him now, standing by the fireplace 
with his elbow on the mantelpiece. He was 
particularly handsome, fresh and wholesome 
looking, tall, broad-shouldered, with a finely 
shaped massive head, covered with thick, 
smooth, cendre* coloured hair, one lock of which 
fell over the left side of his forehead. His 
face was clean-shaven, and I noticed his chiselled 
features, finely shaped nose, determined mouth, 
and strong square jaw. His grey eyes were 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

kind but penetrating, and he fired off questions 
at me in a simple direct manner. It was 
his lack of affectation, and snobbishness, 
that impressed me most at that momentous 

His room at Carmelite House was luxuri- 
ously furnished more like a library in a country 
mansion nothing of the stereotyped office 
here, with hard chairs upholstered in leather, 
ordinary desks, and linoleum- covered floors. I 
noticed the thick carpet into which my feet 
sank as I walked, the soft green velvet curtains, 
the photographs of his dear father and mother 
on his desk, the bookcases reaching from floor 
to ceiling filled with richly bound volumes ; 
but what attracted my attention most were the 
masses of beautiful flowers. He saw me glance 
at them. 

" I spend a number of my working hours 
in this room, so I like to surround myself 
with beautiful things, and the flowers give me 
great joy. I have them sent up from my 
country house twice a week." 

He was almost feminine in his anxiety that 
I should be comfortable and at ease. He pulled 
up an armchair for me, and placed it in front of 
the roaring fire. He talked, not as if I were a 
stranger applying for a post, but as a friend 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

and equal. He explained how he needed some- 
one almost to anticipate what he wanted done, 
someone who would make his interests her 
interests, who could interview for him, go 
through his correspondence and sift the wheat 
from the chaff, who would watch his newspapers 
and discover the weaknesses of one or the other, 
who would not keep an eye on the clock 
meaning no fixed hours. All this appealed to 
me. Why, I thought, this is my dream ful- 
filled. Yes, I can do all that. But with fear 
and trembling I blurted out : " My shorthand 
and typewriting are a bit weak I have been 
working at them for three months, but have no 

" Don't be nervous, you will have plenty 
of work, and with practice you will improve," 
he replied. " I don't want a mere machine ; 
I want somebody with tact, judgment and 

As I am? Irish, I said I had all these! 

"You will start on Monday then." 

I had realized by now that Alfred Harms- 
worth was no ordinary man. Even the office 
boy who ushered me in was dressed in an Eton 
suit, but in spite of this unusual atmosphere, 
his extremely simple and natural manner 
dominated his surroundings. 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

" What about salary ? " I ventured, the 
picture of my little home and sisters loomed 
in front of me. 

" Oh, I haven't thought of it, but that will 
be all right," he replied. 

"But you tell me," I urged, full of 
anxiety, " I am replacing a man who is taking 
on more responsibility; what have you been 
paying him ? " 

" That is quite different, he is a man with 
dependants, and you are only a girl." 

" But I too have responsibilities ; I have no 
parents; no one I can turn to for help, and I 
have two sisters to support." 

Alfred Harmsworth saw the force of my 
argument, and said, " Well, at the end of the 
week we will discuss the matter again, and 
if you make my interests your interests, and 
if I find you have gumption and industry, in 
fact, if you are of help to me I will pay you 

And so began the fight for equal wage 
for men and women. He paid, during the 
subsequent years, substantial salaries to the 
women members of his staff, a very construc- 
tive policy in view of woman's ever-increasing 
participation in public life. No joy that I have 
experienced since can be compared with that 
feeling of security and relief which filled me as 
I passed out of Carmelite House. The joyous- 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

ness which radiated from him to all about him 
communicated itself to me, and through me to my 
little home. We were indeed a very happy family. 

Monday came at last, but not the day I 
imagined. Mr. Sutton (now Sir George Sutton, 
Bart.) entered my room, which adjoined Lord 
Northcliffe's, and gave me some newspapers 
to read. Except for this interruption I saw no 
one, and had no work. I did have the sense, 
however, to go out to lunch. The following day 
another visit from Mr. Sutton," Mr. Alfred will 
not be in to-day." Such was the state of my 
nerves that I muttered, " Thank God ! " 

Mr. Harms worth (as he was then) appeared 
on Wednesday. He had been staying in the 
country, and said he had purposely left me 
alone to give me time to settle down. Every 
day showed the depth of his understanding, 
small things, but so far-reaching. 

His methods of work, in those times long 
ago (1902), may interest my readers. He 
usually appeared about 11 o'clock, having read 
his own, and every other morning newspaper, 
so he was well equipped for continuing his work 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

at Carmelite House. It was his habit to jot 
down in the early hours criticisms and sugges- 
tions on everything conceivable, and from these 
notes we started the day's work. I marvelled 
at his concentration ; he did not waste a second 
of time. He dealt with his vast correspon- 
dence, gave me lists of people whom he wished 
to see, saw the heads of the various depart- 
ments. Nothing connected with his vast 
organization seemed too trivial for his notice ; 
those steel grey eyes of his noted everything, 
and his hearing was just as acute. His power 
of looking ahead, his gift of acquiring informa- 
tion, startled me ; his knowledge of affairs was 
uncanny. He had a curious instinct for asking 
questions, and seemed to know each subject as 
thoroughly as the specialists themselves. 

The days passed all too swiftly. It was one 
round of excitement for me. The letters I had 
to answer touched on every imaginable subject. 
The people seeking interviews represented the 
highest and the lowest, from minor Royalties, 
Cabinet Ministers, distinguished foreigners, our 
leaders from overseas, naval and military men 
of high rank, politicians, men and women in 
the public eye, writers, artists and musicians 
of note. These, down to the humblest of men 
and women, even ex- convicts, all sought out my 


The Real Lord Northclijffe 

Chief. There was scarcely a minute's interval, 
and it surprised me how he could switch off so 
completely from one subject to another. He was 
tireless ; he worked from morning until night. 

During the few first weeks of my life at Car- 
melite House I knew that if I was to succeed 
I must acquaint myself with every subject 
that interested him, and I could best accom- 
plish that by reading the newspapers diligently, 
so that when he arrived at the office my know- 
ledge of current affairs would not disgrace me. 
I arranged with my newsagent that a complete 
set should be delivered to me at my home by 
6 o'clock every morning, and at that time I 
started work. I read carefully The Times, 
Morning Post, Telegraph, Standard, Chronicle, 
and Express, and cut out and pasted on sheets 
of paper all news or special features I found in 
these journals which did not appear in ours. 
I also cut out from our papers items of news 
which we had, and our rivals had missed, so 
that he could see at a glance if we had been 
beaten, though I confess with pleasure that 
that seldom happened. This may seem a small 
task, but it took me a considerable time to do 
thoroughly. I often had a very hurried break- 
fast to enable me to reach Carmelite House at 
10 o'clock. I did not disclose to anyone the 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

hours of work I put in on this job, and when the 
Chief would say : " These sheets are very use- 
ful ; I am glad you do them," I felt more than 
recompensed for my task. 

For many years my whole thoughts and 
efforts were devoted to his work. I read up all 
I could about him, and the business. I kept in 
my private notebook the names of all impor- 
tant members of the staff, their work, their 
home addresses, and their telephone numbers, 
every little detail that would help me to be 
useful to him. I soon learned to notice the 
quality of the paper, the printing, the ink, and 
the make-up, and also the posters ; I kept 
charts of the circulation of the daily, weekly, 
and monthly journals, so that he could see at a 
glance the rise or fall of any one publication. 
To save his eyesight I re-wrote all important 
illegible communications which otherwise 
would have been consigned to the waste- 
paper basket. Many important people owe me 
thanks ! 

My clothes sense, to which I have referred, 

served me exceedingly well. During my leisure 

hours at home, I made my own and my sisters' 

clothes, so I knew when our fashion papers 

B 9 

The Real Lord Northcliffe 

were weak, and when the " Woman's page " of 
the Daily Mail was not practical. It was my 
duty to criticise the fashion designs and women's 
articles, so that my experience in my little 
home stood me in good stead. I tested the 
cookery recipes, also the paper patterns. My 
attention had for a long time been fixed on those 
very charming sketches in the Evening Stan- 
dard by Miss Bessie Ascough, and the delight- 
ful weekly column in the Queen by M. E. Clarke. 
I never tired of telling my Chief the pleasure I 
derived from the work of both these clever 
people. I am very proud that for many years 
they have been valued members of the staff. 
Miss Ascough's sketches are world-famous ; I 
have seen them in the salons of the most ex- 
clusive dressmakers in Paris, London and New 
York; and Mrs. Clarke's delightful weekly 
article, appearing in The Times every Monday 
from Paris, is one of the most attractive features 
of that journal. 

I had to interview many people who were 
anxious to put before my Chief their schemes, 
inventions, and grievances, all having the fixed 
idea that if they could only meet him he would 
take up the subject dearest to their hearts in 
his journals. My habit of signing letters with 
surname and initial only, gave the impression 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

that I was a man- secretary, and many callers, 
especially elderly gentlemen, were indignant 
when asked to submit their business to a mere 
"chit of a girl." Not such a "chit," for I 
assured them I could fully understand and deal 
intelligently with their requests, and that I was 
older than I looked, yet younger than my years, 
for on joining I had given a wrong age, like the 
soldier on enlistment, in order to get a " man's " 
pay ! When later on I wanted to deduct these 
years my Chief said, " Oh ! No, a very poor 
excuse ! " 

A duty I greatly enjoyed was entertaining 
some of his Overseas visitors when he was 
very pressed for time. At his instructions, 
flowers and books awaited them at their 
hotels, and when they were leaving these 
shores, fruit and other gifts were sent to their 

It was customary to hold an Editorial Con- 
ference every afternoon, a " kind of Cabinet 
Meeting," at which the Editors and special 
writers attended, when the outline of the next 
day's paper was put forward, the leading news 
feature selected and the line to be taken dis- 
cussed. Often Lord Northcliffe would alter 
the decision already arrived at, and instead of 
leaving the office about 6 or 7 o'clock as he 
probably had planned, he would write the 
leader himself. Walking up and down the 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

length of his room, smoking a cigar, he would 
dictate it to me. He was fluent and very 
direct in his writing, and you could detect that 
clear penetrating intelligence behind the simple 
well-framed sentences. He wrote just as he 
talked, very descriptively, and not a word too 
many. These were the leaders which gave 
the Daily Mail that dynamic force, that inde- 
pendence, that total disregard for the feelings 
of politicians and other prominent people, and 
made his journals so world famous. His 
thoughts travelled beyond Westminster ! He 
did not look at any one spot through a tele- 
scope, but rather used prism glasses of large 
diameter, which gave him as his " field of view " 
the whole world. 

He was a demon for work. Often after an 
arduous day he would remember his promise 
to write an article, maybe for a prominent 
American or Overseas journalist, who wanted 
his impressions, or for an Editor of a small, un- 
important paper. Whatever it was, he would 
do it. " I can't disappoint ' so and so,' " he 
would say; "I promised." Often, after start- 
ing work at 5 o'clock in the morning, he was so 
tired towards evening that he could hardly 
stand, and instead of going home to dinner 
he would invite one of the staff to take 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

a simple meal with him at a neighbouring 

" I am going to give you an extra pound a 
week, so that you can take a hansom cab when 
you are kept here late. I know what a struggle 
it is on a wet night trying to get inside an 
omnibus," my Chief said to me. " Remember 
it is for cab fares not for finery ! " 

Not long afterwards many complaints 
reached him that I had been seen leaving 
Carmelite House in a hansom cab ! It was a 
most improper proceeding in those far-off days 
to ride by one's self, and I can understand 
the young generation who may scan these 
pages thinking we had a very thin time of it. 
I often wondered why it was considered im- 
proper. Personally, I loved it, and thought 
the windows made a good frame for any 
woman ; certainly we all looked our best in 
them, much more attractive than when emerging 
in these days from an aeroplane, wearing cap 
and goggles. To be associated with a million- 
aire often leads one to extravagance, but in 
my early days the wasting of an eight guinea 
seat, purchased by my Chief for me to see 
King Edward's Coronation, which was post- 
poned, hurt me acutely, and it was long before 
I recovered from the shock. When eventually 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

it did take place, I was working hard at 
Carmelite House ! 

Lord Northcliffe was fascinating to men 
and women alike, and they found the hours 
spent in his company all too short. His per- 
sonal charm captivated all, his conversational 
genius was combined with the rarest kind of 
sincerity and a total freedom from affectation. 
I remember Helen Mathers, the well-known 
authoress of " Comin' thro' the Rye," telling me 
of his good looks at the age of 16, and how he 
resembled a young Apollo. Not only women, 
but men well known in Fleet Street, repeated to 
me how handsome he was in his young days, 
that every head was turned to look at him as he 
passed with an utter lack of self-consciousness. 

He had a supreme talent for friendship, and 
had a rare gift of inspiring the devotion of his 
staff. He was loved with boyish ardour by 
men of such diverse temperament as Thomas 
Marlowe, Charles Hands, H. W. Wilson, Hannen 
Swaffer, the late Twells Brex, and William 
McAlpin, his devoted friend and able repre- 
sentative for many years in Paris. All who 
came into personal contact with him felt the 
magnetism that induced them to put him first, 
even at the sacrifice of their own home life. 
He was a born leader, but never so absorbed in 
his own affairs that he was unable or unwilling 
to appreciate the work of others. He was the 


The Reai, Lord Northcliffe 

first to send congratulations with unstinted 
praise for any achievement or exploit in any 
part of the world, no matter by whom it was 
accomplished. I always felt a certain pride 
that many splendid types of men loved my 
Chief and understood him. He enjoyed the 
friendship of patriots; Cecil Rhodes, Lord 
Roberts, Sir Henry Wilson. To my knowledge 
Sir Henry Wilson consulted him often, and the 
National Service Movement, put before the 
country by our beloved " Bobs," was helped 
both financially and publicly by him. Lord 
Roberts usually signed his letters to my Chief, 
" Yours affectionately," surely a tribute from 
our great Field Marshal. 

Lord Northcliffe impressed upon me the 
value of friendship. I remember that after I 
had been at Carmelite House a few months he 
startled me by saying, " I have tested you, my 
dear, and find you loyal and truthful, and now 
I shall take you fully into my confidence." He 
counted off on his fingers his real friends, as he 
described them : " Harold (his brother, now 
Lord Rothermere), Sutton, Beeton (and another 
whose name for the moment I have forgotten), 
I trust them with everything, and your name" 
(touching his little finger) "will be added to the 
list. Remember, it is better to have a few real 
friends than hundreds of acquaintances. You 
now have a friend in me for life." 


The Real Lord Nor the life 

No wonder I thought him the most mar- 
vellous person who had ever crossed my path, 
and I made every effort to uphold that trust. 

Amongst ourselves we talked of him as 
" Alfred," or " Alfred the Great." He had a 
natural dignity of which nobody, however 
friendly he became, could take advantage. 
I remember, though, one youthful member 
failing to understand this. Lord Northcliffe 
invited him to his country house, and during 
his visit called him by his Christian name, 
which was rather a favourite habit of his. His 
young guest, forgetting his position, addressed 
his Chief not only personally, but in writing, as 
" My dear Alfred." It did not surprise me 
that his career on our staff was short. 

He addressed all our sex as : " My dear ! " 
an elastic term which may mean so much or so 
little ! Whether we were married or single, 
young or old, made no difference. I chaffed 
him once : " You play for safety, and so avoid 
confusion among your lady friends." To which 
he laughingly agreed. 

" Ah, my dear, you don't know them as 
I do ; I have to be careful," and truthfully I 
did not. 

It was a never-ending surprise to me how 
persistent some women were in their efforts to 
make his acquaintance, or improve the friendship 
already begun. Whether it was admiration for 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

him, or publicity and power for themselves, I did 
not fathom. I was often astonished that women 
whose title, name, wealth or ability assured 
them of a certain position, should be filled with 
anxiety for their names to be mentioned in the 
society columns of his newspapers. I have 
seen letters from women who had been present 
at the opera, or some other function, bitterly 
complaining that the names of their friends had 
appeared and their own been omitted. Others 
less exalted in the social scale were equally 
persistent seekers after notoriety. 

I never see sandwiches without the vision 
of a little packet being left in my room every 
afternoon by a messenger boy. Taking it for 
granted it was but another kind thought of my 
Chief's to provide me with a little nourishment, 
I ate them. It was months before I discovered 
that they were not ordered for me by the Chief, 

but for the Chief by Lady , who had a most 

casual acquaintance with him. She thought the 
way to the man's soul was : " Feed the brute." 

I did, however, understand my own sex on 
one occasion. Before Lord Northcliffe launched 
the Daily Mirror in its first form as a women's 
newspaper, I repeatedly told him we did not 
require a newspaper for ourselves, we were 
quite content with those supplied to our men 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

folk ; but he thought otherwise, and the ex- 
periment cost him 100,000. He was the first 
to recognize his mistake and said, " It was 
simply another failure made by mere man in 
diagnosing women's needs ! " What a hectic 
time that was ! Working night and day, a 
mixture of tragedy and comedy. The staff 
was composed of women, with the exception of 
three or four men in an advisory capacity. 
My sympathies were with the night Editor, 
who with no other male to support him was 
called upon to decide all disputes and preserve 
law and order. No wonder he rushed from 
Fleet Street, and went " back to the land " ! 

From the very beginning of Lord North- 
cliffe's career he paid his staff very liberally, 
and adopted the profit-sharing system for those 
who had helped him in his earliest days. His 
great publishing business, the Amalgamated 
Press, was so organized that the staff worked 
only five days a week. The wonderful success 
of this enterprise was due to those devoted 
workers who started with him over thirty years 
ago. Mr. A. E. Linforth, so popular in Fleet- 
way House, was one of this little band ; he is 
now Vice- Chairman of the company. 

Lord Northcliffe sent many members of his 
staffs to his delightful home at Grand Falls, 
Newfoundland, where some years ago he estab- 
lished his paper mills. They were sent not only 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

for a holiday, but for the additional advantage 
of keeping in touch with all sides of the business. 
The establishing of a town in the oldest colony 
of the British Empire is surely a romance in 
itself. This has been built in the midst of 
forest land, with well-designed and comfortable 
houses for the inhabitants, streets well paved, 
electric light, telephones, schools, churches, hos- 
pital, public library, bank, theatre, kinema, 
and even wireless. The Duke of Connaught, 
when Governor-General of Canada, paid a visit 
to Grand Falls, and occupied Lord Northcliffe's 
house. It is a very charming one, and was 
built from plans sent to him by the late Mark 
Twain, who remembered the admiration which 
Lord Northcliffe had expressed for his home 
while visiting him there. 

When my Chief was taking a holiday in our 
own islands, on the Continent, or even so far 
afield as America, he would cable for several 
members of his various staffs to join him. He 
was a charming host, every wish anticipated, 
and arrangements made as if all were honoured 
guests, as indeed they were. 

He was a genius in selecting men. There 
is a well-known story in Fleet Street of how he 
passed a young reporter on the staircase, and 
questioned him about his work and salary. 
The young man replied that he was happy and 
earning 8 a week. 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

" Content ? " Lord Northcliffe inquired. 

" Yes, quite," he answered. 

" Then you had better look for another post, 
for nobody will make headway with me who is 
content with 8 a week on the Editorial Staff." 

I reminded him of this story and he said, 
' Yes, I recognized his limitations at once, my 

Youth was a word I was constantly hearing, 
for my Chief was a great believer in it. He 
once remarked to me, " When I am forty I shall 
slack off, and not take on further responsibili- 
ties, and certainly not buy any newspapers." 

He made himself an impossible promise. 
Those who have followed his career know what 
he was doing at fifty, and what he would have 
done had he lived to sixty. 

I was often urged by a sister, who lived in 
India, to leave Fleet Street and join her there. 
She thought I was wasting my youth, and lead- 
ing a drab existence. She did not realize that 
the very atmosphere of the newspaper world 
is electrifying, and so penetrating that one can 
never be free of it ; to me it was an earthly 
Paradise. My friends often chaffed me, and 
said my happiness would be complete if I could 
arrange for a little home to be built on the roof 
of Carmelite House ! But the truth of it was 
that every day was a fresh adventure. We 
peeped behind the scenes, and so learned the 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

secrets of the world. We knew the inside 
stories of the so-called Cabinet crisis ; the plot- 
tings of foreign countries, with their aims and 
ambitions ; the principal figures in international 
scandals ; the private lives of public people ; the 
pulling of strings in political and other worlds ; 
the motives, unknown to the general public, 
behind criminal and divorce cases; the inner 
lives of unscrupulous financiers. But not only 
the seamy side ; we heard also of the conditions 
of labour, the sacrifices and untold heroism of 
the ordinary man and woman in the street. 
We heard of our countrymen overseas. Nothing 
too big or too small for the attention of the 
journalist. This variety was so fascinating 
that one's work became one's pleasure. 

Lord Northcliffe had true sympathy with 
his staff ; he understood them and their diffi- 
culties. All artists and writers are tempera- 
mental, and apt to feel very acutely. When 
something had gone wrong, and a stormy inter- 
view in a volcanic atmosphere had taken place, 
I would catch sight of a man leaving his room 
looking very despondent. I would mention it. 

" My dear," he would say, " I am so sorry ; I 
didn't mean to hurt him, but he was ' asleep ' (or 
' stupid ' or ' indolent ' or whatever it might 
be). Tell him to lunch with me." 

With great joy I would rush upstairs to the 
Editorial room, and tell the offender, still suf- 


The Real Lorn Northcliffe 

fering from his wounds, that the Chief wanted 
him downstairs. As we descended I would say : 
" Don't mention the little upheaval ; it is all 
over and the Chief has forgotten it." He would 
be the first to hold out his hand and say : 
" I was irritable," " not feeling well," or 
" worried." 

Sometimes he would dictate to me a very 
angry letter, with instructions to see it delivered 
immediately. After he had signed it, if I 
thought it undeserved I would put it on one 
side (remembering that " the written letter 
remains ") and purposely forget it. Later on 
I would show it to him, and ask if he still wished 
it sent. More often than not it was destroyed. 
The same with fiery messages, how often I 
thought it wiser to forget them ! 

No wonder those who knew him well adored 
him ; how could they help it ? They knew he 
was a genius, with a genius's unexpectedness. 
One never quite knew what he intended to do, 
or what he wanted done. 

One day I ventured : " Tell me, did you ever 
imagine in your very young days you would 
have such a successful life ? " 

" My dear," he replied, " I attribute my 
success, as you call it, to seeing ahead. I did 
not think my school-fellows were stupid, but 
I could always see farther than they could." 

It was this gift of vision which, added to his 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

great power of concentration and grit, carried 
him on. 

In some ways he was ruthless. He had no 
use for inefficiency. " I pay my staff well and 
treat them well, and I expect in return good 
service," and he usually had it. Having ex- 
perienced impecunious days myself, I felt sorry 
when a man was dismissed, and if he had a wife 
and children I would plead for a second or even 
a third chance. Sometimes the man would 
get it, sometimes not. Nothing would alter 
his decision when he had formed an opinion of 
a man's value. " I know him better than you ; 
one cannot bolster up empty sacks," and later 
on his judgment proved correct. 

One of my earliest recollections is the instal- 
ment of an electrophone in his room. He invited 
leading Editors of other journals, and our own 
special writers, to be present to hear Joseph 
Chamberlain deliver his celebrated speech on 
" Tariff Reform " at the Guildhall. It was a 
rare pleasure for me, as I had never heard him ; 
it seemed a miracle, so distinctly could I hear 
every word. That afternoon was recalled 
vividly to my mind last year, when I took a 
party of young people to the Daily Mail office 

The Real Lord Northcliffe 

to initiate them into the mysteries of wireless. 
The doors of the room were closed, and they were 
amazed and interested when the operator fixed 
the receivers on their ears and they heard messages 
from across the Atlantic, from the Continent, and 
also from aeroplanes flying the channel. 

My first acquaintance with the motor car 
was a ride, as a great privilege, in Lord North- 
cliffe's 90 h.p. Mercedes, which took two men 
to start the engine. How different from these 
days of the self-starter. 

The Daily Mail gliding prizes take my 
thoughts back to the time when the Wright 
Brothers brought from America their flight 
invention, and came to Lord Northcliffe, who 
saw at once the possibilities, not only in war- 
fare, but also in civil life. He urged the Govern- 
ment to give it attention. Lord Balfour and 
Mr. Winston Churchill were enthusiastic, others 
were indifferent. Can it be so long ago as 1909 
when my Chief telephoned me early one morn- 
ing : " Our country is no longer an island ; 
Bleriot has flown the channel, and history is 
made to-day. Do you realize it is the first time 
an entry has been made otherwise than by ship ? 
We must send out invitations for a luncheon 
in his honour." The excitement when Bleriot 
and Lord Northcliffe drove up together to the 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

Savoy Hotel must still be very vivid in the 
minds of my friends at Carmelite House. 

When thinking of him and his work my 
thoughts invariably turn to his mother. She 
was his ideal of womanhood and his devotion 
to her was immeasurable. It was his joy to 
take her away, just the two of them, for a 
holiday every summer, motoring or travelling 
on the Continent. I remember his pleasurable 
excitement when he took her to America, and 
to lunch at the White House at Washington 
with President Roosevelt. He was always 
speaking to me of his " wonderful mother," as 
he called her, and always visited, telephoned or 
wrote to her daily. She was his inspiration, 
and ever in his thoughts. Abraham Lincoln's 
words applied equally to Lord Northcliffe. 
" All that I am, all that I ever hope to be, I 
owe to my mother." He talked over with her 
his schemes and ambitions from his earliest 
days. If he had promised to dine or lunch with 
her, neither Kings nor Queens could keep him 
from that promise. 

Before he went off on his world tour he 
looked so tired and worn that I suggested he 
should go instead to a nursing home and take a 
thorough rest. 

" I have always wanted this trip," he 
c 25 

The Real Lord Northcliffe 

said, " and the doctors tell me my mother is in 
splendid health, so I am taking the opportunity 
of leaving her for a few months." 

His last words to me on the eve of sailing 
were : "I shall pray every day for my mother." 
I replied : " Don't be over anxious, your brothers 
and sisters will look after her, they also adore 

" Yes, I know that, but I am her first-born 
and she looks to me." 

He cabled to her every day, and sent her 
long descriptive letters. The sympathy and 
understanding between this mother and son 
are rarely equalled in these days of hurry 
and scurry. Here was a man, whom so 
many thought ruthless, ambitious and 
self-advertising, showing even to me that 
natural boyish affection for his family. Often 
he would telephone from his mother's home : 
" I shall be at the office soon. I have had a 
delightful morning with mother and Christabel's 
(a favourite sister) children," and he did not 
tire of telling me of the games they all played 
together. The simplicity of the life there 
appealed to him. " Give a kiss and my love 
to mother, and tell her she is the only one." 
Such were his messages to her when he was 
dying. They buried him with her picture on 
his breast, and in his hands were clasped the 
little book, her gift to him, which he had with 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

him always. He was very attached to his 
brothers and sisters, and always spoke of them 
to me in endearing terms. Lord Rothermere 
was his confidant and helper, and his opinion 
was asked and invariably taken before fresh 
schemes were launched. He constantly referred 
to his brother St John's fortitude and courage 
in taking up the threads of life and making good, 
in spite of the terrible motor accident, which 
crippled him and blotted out in a moment the 
promise of a great career. 

I thought years ago that I was unusual, or 
more than up to date, in having the telephone 
fixed, not only by my bedside, but also in my 
bathroom. The Chief had a habit of ringing 
us up in turn at any moment of the early morn- 
ing, and he was impatient if a maid asked for a 
message, so I always had my pencil and paper 
ready to take down any instructions, or even 
articles, through the telephone. 

I soon discovered the adoration Lord North- 
cliffe had for children of all kinds and conditions. 
To my knowledge he practically adopted scores, 
educated them, planned their holidays. He 
sent some to the 'Varsities, others to the Con- 
tinent ; a few even enjoyed the finishing advan- 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

tages of a trip round the world. They were 
children of his journalistic friends, or little ones 
who had lost their parents. I shall follow their 
careers with interest. We all know it was a 
great grief to him that he had no children of 
his own. 

" But there, my dear," he would say, 
" no one person can have everything in life ; 
there is a crumpled rose-leaf everywhere, so 
count your blessings and you will realize you are 
well off. Wouldn't it be dull if we had our 
every wish gratified ? " 

Had my Chief had children, he would 
have had no leisure to father so many waifs 
and strays. He never failed to inquire from 
time to time after my little family, the three 
children I adopted twelve years ago. 

One of his greatest pleasures was his annual 
camp at Broadstairs for the boys from Poplar. 
It was a summer camp for about 500, and 
these young town-bred schoolboys had a joyous 
holiday, most of them seeing the sea and country 
for the first time. Everything was provided 
for their comfort. They had special trains to 
take them to and fro, and sports of every de- 
scription were organized to fill their days. He 
loved these weeks beyond everything. He 
entered into their games with that joyousness 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

and youthful spirit which marked him even to 
the end. It was an unwritten law that he had 
a bachelor party at his Broadstairs home during 
that time, and invitations were eagerly accepted 
by his old friends. Whenever suitable vacan- 
cies occurred in his various businesses, his 
thoughts would turn to his friends, as he called 
them, in Poplar, and inquiries were made for 
suitable candidates. 

He took great interest in Sir Arthur Pearson's 
" Fresh Air Fund," and it was my duty to see 
that each year his journals, the Daily Mail, 
Evening News and Weekly Dispatch, gave it 
full publicity. He continually noticed the backs 
of those rows and rows of grim, dreary-looking 
houses, which we all see from the railway car- 
riage windows when entering big manufactur- 
ing towns, and when the schemes for the 
Garden Cities were put before him he entered 
into them with characteristic energy and 

He was for ever thinking how he could help 
those less fortunate than himself. He under- 
stood in no small measure what the blind missed 
in life. So far back as 1906 he had the Daily 
Mail printed in Braille and this was continued 
until the middle of the war, when it was taken 
over by the National Institute for the Blind. 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

Father Boiling's name is engraved on my 
memory. A great friendship existed between 
that famous east end preacher and Lord 
Northcliffe. This was evident in his great 
anxiety lest Father Dolling should not recover 
from the serious illness which ended his life. 
Neither effort nor money was spared, every- 
thing that could be done was done, and it was 
a great grief when he lost his friend. He after- 
wards interested himself financially in the sea- 
side Dolling Memorial Home, and devoted a lot 
of time to its organization. The Rev. Hugh 
Chapman, and Sir Owen Seaman, Editor of 
Punch, did not appeal in vain for his help 
when starting the well-known Normyl Cure for 

Incidents crowd upon my mind as I write, 
but one will always remain as of yesterday. 
It was Christmas, 1902. I was sent to Coutts's 
Bank for several 50 notes. On my return I 
addressed several envelopes under his direction, 
and into each one placed a note. 

" I want you to deliver these personally 
this afternoon, and in no manner disclose my 
name. They are old friends of my father's, and 
people I knew in my young days, but now 
down and out." 

Several of them were for the Temple, and 
when I convinced myself I was face to face 
with these old friends, I parted with my gifts, 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

and flew down the creaking stairs as quickly 
as possible lest I should be traced. 

He was very witty, and always saw the 
humorous side of things. I recollect with 
what boyish glee he told me how just before 
boarding a channel boat he bought, as was 
his habit, a complete set of newspapers to read 
on the journey. He was wearing a travelling 
ulster and cap well pulled down, with his papers 
in a bundle under his arm, when he was tapped 
on the shoulder by a passenger, and " Times, 
please," was bellowed in his ear. I have for- 
gotten whether he parted with his copy or not ! 
His appreciation of amusing incidents was 
easily seen. A member of the Editorial staff 
sauntered into the office one evening, and seeing 
a colleague, as he thought, bending over a desk 
writing, slapped him vigorously on the back and 
said : " Thank God, the old man has gone to the 
Continent; now we shall have peace." 

"Oh no, he hasn't," said Lord Northcliffe, 
looking up and enjoying the offender's confusion. 
An invitation to dinner closed the incident. 

An epidemic of loss of memory once spread 
over the country, and Lord Northcliffe was 
perturbed by the disappearance of his valet 
for a few days. I suggested he had lost his 

The Real Lord Northcliffe 

" Oh no," he said, " that is all very well for 
the newspapers, but not for my domestic 
staff ! " 

As Joseph remained in his service, I presume 
he gave a satisfactory explanation. 

My readers must not imagine that life was 
altogether a bed of roses. Suffering once from 
a sense of injustice, I had a heated argument 
with Lord Northcliffe, and in the midst of it he 
stopped me and said : " Look in the mirror 
my dear and see how hideous your face is ! I 
can tolerate it when it is cheerful, but now 
impossible ! " Who could refrain from smiling 
and so recovering equanimity ? 

Reference has been publicly made to his 
extensive private pension list for what he called 
" deserving cases." It was a lengthy one, and 
once on the list meant being there for life, and 
the amounts were not small. Not only his 
immediate circle, but others with scarcely any 
claim were made comfortable for life. This 
list was very private, he preferred people to 
think of him as a monster, rather than the 
warm-hearted man he was. 

I have heard it said by those who do not 
know, that the sufferings and troubles of the 


TJie Real Lord Northcliffe 

rich are non-existent, that money heals all 
wounds. How untrue ! Lord Northcliffe, 
though very rich himself, repeatedly said : 
" Money does not bring happiness, but it can 
round off the corners of life, in that it enables 
one to travel, and to help crowds of lame 
dogs over stiles." 

As an Irishwoman I always realized that 
the transposition of the first two letters in 
"acres" spells "cares." 

"Medical men should be paid handsomely 
by rich people," Lord Northcliffe would 
say. " They give much of their time, 
thought and energy to the poor without any 

His interest, work and pecuniary help aided 
many hospitals, and Lord Knutsford, that 
prince of beggars, never appealed to him in 

Though it is not generally known, he was a 
great lover of music. On one occasion he 
played to me on the piano with obvious pride 
his earliest compositions, and remarked that 
by those he earned his first money. He took 
a great interest in pictures and tapestries, and 
had many beautiful examples in his homes. He 
loved colour, and expressed his admiration for 
Mostyn's famous garden scenes, and the work 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

of that brilliant young artist, the late Lovat 

His Spartan life would astonish many of his 
readers. He ate sparingly, drank but little 
alcohol, and usually retired to bed between 
9 and 10 o'clock. He was not strong, and only 
by this rigime could he conserve his energy and 
strength. Lord Northcliffe had no expensive 
hobbies. He spent very little money on him- 
self, and having known in his early days what 
it was to be " hard-up," he hated waste of any 
kind. I have been called over the coals for 
carelessness, especially for omitting to switch 
off the electric lights. He loved fishing, but 
his real pleasure was reading, mostly biogra- 
phies and books of travel. I am very pleased 
that he took with him and read on his last tour 
my little birthday gift : Steele's translation 
of " Aristotle's Letters to Alexander the 

A few years ago Lord Northcliffe was advised 
by his doctor to take up golf. He hated it, and 
would have given it up had not Sandy Thomson, 
the well-known professional, thought otherwise. 
There was no escape ; wet or fine at 9 o'clock 
Sandy called for him wherever he happened to 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

be. The Chief used to tell us how he would 
even ignore the valet's excuse and walk into the 
bedroom, and persuade him against that first 
instinct of dodging a lesson, when an east wind 
was blowing. He took such interest in Lord 
Northcliffe's game, that within a very short 
time his handicap was reduced to single figures, 
and it was through the perseverance of the pro- 
fessional that he enjoyed good health for many 
years. Sandy's Scottish humour delighted Lord 
Northcliffe, and the list of golfing " Command- 
ments " which he drew up and insisted upon 
his pupil reciting every day before playing, 
afforded much amusement to the Chief and his 
friends. For many years he travelled with 
Lord Northcliffe, and became almost an inter- 
national figure, for very few people missed 
meeting " Sandy " ; he and Pine (my Chief's 
loyal chauffeur for 20 years) looked after him 
with boyish devotion, each doing his best to 
serve him well. 

Lord Northcliffe had no sympathy with 
habitual grumblers, those who hugged their 
grievances and repeated them again and again 
to their colleagues and friends, instead of going 
to headquarters. It was for this reason he had 
a golden rule: he would listen to complaints 
from every member of his staff, and that faculty 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

of seeing at once both sides of the question 
served him well. Like Aristotle, he always 
said : " First of all, let's get the facts." That 
determination to deal with facts and to see both 
sides always impressed me, for he saw people 
as they are, and not as they ought to be. He 
would say : " As if anyone ever knew the whole 
truth about anyone." 

Fulsome flattery he heartily disliked. 
" He is an impossible person, my dear. 
He agrees with everything I say right or 

And he summed up very clearly the worth 
of those who thought they would succeed by 
paying him compliments. 

Lord Northcliffe acquired The Times in 1908, 
and March 17 was a momentous day for us, 
for The Times is the most powerful thing in the 
whole world. It is already recorded in detail 
how he stepped in and obtained control, fore- 
stalling the late Sir Arthur Pearson. It seems 
hardly possible that during the passing of those 
14 years so many things have changed. He did 
not attempt to alter the character of that 
famous journal ; his ambition was to maintain 
its traditions, and he worked for that end. 
Only those in close association with him during 
those early days know of the struggle he had, 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

and the obstacle-makers he encountered; it 
was like knocking his head repeatedly against 
a brick wall. He devoted much of his precious 
time to improving the appearance of the paper ; 
the ink, printing, publishing and advertising, 
for nothing escaped his attention. He had 
great difficulty, I remember, in introducing 
electric light into some parts of Printing House 
Square, and how he urged and urged the late 
Mr. Moberly Bell to save his energy and time 
by dictating his letters to a stenographer, 
instead of laboriously writing them by hand. 
To be up-to-date and take advantage of labour- 
saving appliances, such as the typewriter, is 
not breaking tradition; and putting the great 
journal on a sounder footing was surely the 
only way to maintain its place as the greatest 
newspaper in the world. He often spoke to me 
of the future of The Times. He thought he 
would like it carried on as a national institution 
after his death, but the scheme was not prac- 
tical. He had a dread of politicians or foreign 
financiers obtaining control and using it against 
the interest of the British Empire, or to further 
the ambitions of a few unscrupulous people 
anxious for power. His foreign travels and know- 
ledge of public affairs helped him unquestionably, 
and the few who criticized his work and spoke so 
slightingly of it, displayed their ignorance. I 
wonder what they would have done had they 



The Real Lord Northcliffe 

been in his place ? Personally, I think that 
but for him the journal would have perished. 

He met nearly every person of interest the 
world over. It was not " Who are you ? " but 
; ' What are you ? " He had no use for those 
who, bearing great names, were content to live 
on that. It saddened him when he saw such 
people failing to uphold their fine traditions. 
He knew how much Great Britain owed to those 
families who devoted themselves to honoured 
service for their country. Ordinary " Society " 
people bored him. He was most happy with 
those of his own craft. 

There was, I remember, great excitement 
in Fleet Street, and particularly in Carmelite 
House, when it became known that Lord North- 
cliffe had been chosen as the central figure of a 
forthcoming play. We naturally felt very 
curious, and I remember how the whole staff 
gathered at the first night performance of The 
Earth, by Fagan. I confess to disappoint- 
ment, for I knew the Chief so well, and could 
trace in the play no resemblance either to his 
character or work. On my returning home 
Lord Northcliffe telephoned me, " I hope you 
have had an amusing evening." He was dis- 
appointed when I told him it was a failure. 


The Real Lord Northchffe 

" My dear," he said, " I could have done it so 
much better ; I should have torn him to shreds 
had I been the author." 

Another play, What the Public Want, by 
Arnold Bennett. That incomparable actor, 
Hawtrey, played the character representing 
Lord Northcliffe, but here again no resem- 
blance. Both authors seized on what they 
thought to be the man's personality, but failed 
hopelessly. He always enjoyed a joke against 
himself, and these dramatic efforts afforded him 
great amusement. 

I flatter myself that I absorbed a little 
philosophy in that " Street of Adventure," to 
borrow Sir Philip Gibbs's apt description of 
Fleet Street. Lord Northcliffe taught me to 
close an eye to faults, but open both wide where 
praise was due. This has helped me consider- 
ably, and I am sure it is worth remembering. 
He practised it himself, and was very generous 
in his praise, whether he sent cables to his cor- 
respondents stationed in out of the way parts 
of the globe, or messages to his staff nearer 
home. He would send cheques to the wives 
of his writers with a characteristic note : " Please 
accept the enclosed as a souvenir of your hus- 
band's delightful article this morning, it gave 
me great pleasure." Sometimes he would send 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

a basket of fruit or choice flowers, or even a 
piece of jewellery. He had the priceless faculty 
of giving pleasure in an unexpected manner. He 
seldom returned from a holiday without several 
gifts for the wives of those who served him. 

Mentioning gifts reminds me of the first 
trinket he ever gave me. On the eve of leaving 
London for a holiday abroad he bade us all 
" good-bye," and as an afterthought turned 
to me and said : " Get your ears pierced while 
I am away, and I will buy you a pair of pearl 

Overjoyed, I rushed to the jeweller for the 
operation, and in my ears I wore gold-wire 
rings. I glued my eyes to the Bond Street 
windows, and selected in my imagination pearl 
drops reaching almost to my shoulders, even 
trying the effect with beads, and nodding my 
head to get accustomed to them. On his 
return three months later no mention was made 
of earrings ! My pride was too hurt to refer 
to the subject, although I could not refrain 
from touching the gold wires in my ears rather 
ostentatiously. Many months passed, until I 
had almost forgotten the promise, when one 
day he took from his waistcoat pocket a case 
measuring a square inch. 

" Here are your earrings, my dear, I hadn't 

The Real Lord Northcliffe 

forgotten them." On my opening the case my 
face must have betrayed my surprise, for instead 
of dangling drops I saw two very small pearl 
studs. I put them on, " Very nice, very neat, 
just what I would like my sister to wear." 

I afterwards realized that his was the 
better taste. He detested ostentation in any 
form. Of all people I have met no one loved 
simplicity more ; his taste was unerring, and 
those who have visited his homes will agree 
with me. 

If I waited long for the earrings, I certainly 
had other unexpected gifts. I remember once 
being late, and my excuse was that my watch 
(an inexpensive one) had lost time. Without 
a moment's hesitation he switched his gold 
repeater from his chain, and putting it on my 
desk he said : " Keep this, I know it is a good 
time-keeper, and never be late again." 

I thought he had given it to me on the 
impulse of the moment, as I could see it was 
of value, so the next day I offered it back, but 
he refused it. It is now my most precious 
possession, and I shall treasure it all my life. 

On the eve of his birthdays, and at Christmas, 
my advice was sought by his friends and valued 
members of his staff about suitable presents. 
D 41 

The Real Lord Northclifte 

They all wanted to give him something unique. 
A simple message of love and loyalty pleased 
him most, but those who had so much from him 
wanted their feelings to take a more practical 
form. I assured them he detested gifts, but 
without avail ; and my thoughts now turn to the 
" Museum," as he called the safe where he kept 
these offerings, and I am wondering what their 
final destination will be. 

Lord Northcliffe was very generous in the 
matter of holidays, and Fleet Street knows of 
the unexpected cheques which some of us re- 
ceived to enable us to take our holidays further 
afield than our finances permitted. I well 
remember how I obtained my first winter 
holiday, by going to sleep ! As I have already 
mentioned, we had no fixed hours for work ; 
often our busiest time would be the evening, 
when others had finished. Lord Northcliffe 
would return to the office after dinner to collect 
work I had prepared for him. He was extra 
late one evening, and tired out by waiting I 
had fallen asleep. He realized for the first time 
that I was overworked, and was very distressed. 
So I was packed off the next day. 

He was a great believer in the educational 
value of travel, and encouraged it in all of us, 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

from the directors to the humblest members 
of the staff. 

" I can see the business better if I get away 
from it, so I am off to the Continent to-morrow." 

How often I heard this said. Some- 
times the journey would be to the extreme 
north of Scotland, to Ireland, or a motoring 
tour through Wales. He insisted on seeing 
things first hand, and thus learning how best he 
could serve his own people. His love for our 
Empire was the one passion of his life ; it 
became almost an obsession. He did all that 
man could do to further its interests, and link 
up our scattered possessions with an unbreak- 
able chain of love and understanding. He 
believed in making known to the public the 
life and the conditions in our Empire overseas, 
and he spared neither money nor effort in doing 
this. It is well known how he established a 
weekly edition of the Daily Mail, and pub- 
lished it at a ridiculously cheap rate, so that all 
our people to the farthermost points of Canada, 
Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, 
and our other lonely lands should be kept in 
touch with home affairs, and encouraged to 
feel they were always in our thoughts. When 
the life of Lord Northcliffe is written, record- 
ing his great work, it will be seen how he 
was responsible in a very large measure 
for keeping the British Flag, and all it 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

stands for, in the hearts of the present 
generation of our countrymen overseas. He 
was the prime mover in establishing the 
Overseas Club, whose influence now reaches 
round the world. 

It is an open secret that Lord Northcliffe 
had a great admiration for France and her 
people, and spent many of his holidays there. 
In my early days he complained to me how he 
missed his morning newspaper, but he soon 
remedied that by starting the Paris Daily Mail. 
It has been for years a great boon to travellers 
both in Paris and farther afield. I welcomed 
the idea, I could see myself being sent to Paris 
on business, and incidentally returning with a 
new hat. Personally I seized every opportunity 
of seeing the world of which I was daily hearing. 

The Manchurian War was drawing to a 
close, and the exiled British War correspon- 
dents were on their way home, when they were 
detained in Petrograd owing to the unsettled 
state of the country. Charles Hands, our bril- 
liant writer, had been absent from England 
over a year, and it occurred to Lord Northcliffe 
that he (Charles) would much appreciate a sur- 
prise visit from his wife, so he arranged that 
Mrs. Hands should join her husband there. I 
can always remember the tribute he paid to 


The Real Lord Northclijfe 

Charlie Hands : " So lovable, staunch, wise, 
and without an ugly thought," and he smilingly 
added, " I only had a good time on my first 
visit to America because I said I knew Charles, 
his name was my passport ! " 

Owing to the rigorous climate she was 
going to, Lord Northcliffe gave Mrs. Hands 
instructions to purchase a fur-lined coat for 
the journey. She invited me to assist her in 
her choice, and together we went one Saturday 
morning to Bond Street. While we were so 
occupied, the assistant pressed me to try one on. 

" A fur coat is of no use to me ; 
I am not going to Russia," I said, and 
then the vision of myself wearing the coat 
flashed into my mind. " If I did go to Russia 
I could have the coat," so, acting on impulse, 
I fled from the shop to the Post Office near by, 
and wrote a request to Lord Northcliffe for 
permission to go. 

He was on the eve of taking a trip to the 
South of France, and was due to leave London 
that same evening. My note was sent to his 
house, where were gathered Lord Rothermere, 
the late Kennedy Jones, and one or two others, 
settling affairs before he left. It was read 
aloud, and " K. J.," as we affectionately called 
him, always assured me he persuaded Lord 
Northcliffe to say " Yes." 

Every day is still as fresh in my memory as 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

in those days long past. The revolution in 
Petrograd, with its shooting and attendant 
excitements, filled me with wonder. Even the 
ticket collector's remark at Charing Cross, when 
my destination was noticed, I liked. 

" If you are for Russia, Miss, your days are 
numbered ; you'll never return alive " I 

I have since travelled all over Europe, 
spent a winter in India, and six months in 
Egypt, where I was entertained by Lord 
Kitchener. I found him very human, nothing 
sphinx-like, as I was led to believe. My last 
far-away trip was to America, and when in Wash- 
ington during the Conference I heard from the 
President, and all the leading Americans I had 
the privilege of meeting, of Lord Northcliffe's 
great work. They knew, with me, that he was 
the greatest friend America ever had, and he 
did more to bring about good understanding 
between the two nations than any other man 
in public life. He took a leading part in the 
formation of the English Speaking Union, and 
always gave it his great support. If ever I 
enjoyed any popularity, either here or abroad, 
it was only " reflected glory." 

From the time I first knew Lord Northcliffe 
until well on in the War, he would never allow 
his name to be mentioned in his journals with- 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

out his special permission ; he preferred to 
remain behind the scenes. For many years 
previous to 1914, he had correspondents in 
Germany, gathering details about naval and 
military progress, activity at Krupps, and in- 
dustrial conditions. This information was tabu- 
lated and sent by him to our then leading poli- 
ticians, some of whom were grateful, others not. 

These facts came to the knowledge of the 
Kaiser himself, and a request was made to Lord 
Northcliffe to withdraw his representatives, who 
were embarrassing the German Government. 
He refused to comply. I well remember the 
Kaiser's last visit here, when a Court ball was 
given in his honour and Lord Northcliffe was 
invited. Shortly before midnight my tele- 
phone rang, and I heard my Chief's voice : 

" I have escaped from the wily Kaiser, my 
dear. It was made known to me that he wished 
me to be presented to him. I thought otherwise, 
so here I am at home, just going to bed." 

I have heard it said on many sides that Lord 
Northcliffe was very embittered because he 
did not take part in the Peace Conference. 
That is not true. We often discussed the 
matter before the Armistice, and he repeatedly 
told me how urgent it was for him to watch, and 
use his newspapers to the best of his ability. 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

Walking in his garden at Broadstairs in the 
early part of the War, and hearing the booming 
of guns across the channel, he remarked, " I 
hope I shall live to see the end of this, and to 
keep an eye on the Treaty. I know these 
crafty politicians and how they would sell 
their very souls for material gain." 

And we then spoke of the " hidden hand," 
and all that was happening behind the scenes. 
Had he taken part in the Peace Conference 
himself, his newspapers would have suffered ; he 
could not have published what he heard, and he 
could best serve our Empire as an onlooker. 

In early 1919 Lord Northcliffe was faced with 
a very serious operation, and was sent to the 
South of France to regain the strength he had 
lost through overwork during the War. He 
arranged to return home in April, but his 
doctors insisted on his remaining in Paris until 
the weather in England became warmer. These 
few days were seized upon by his political 
opponents to hold him up to ridicule, " waiting 
for the summons that never came." His health 
was such that had Kings, Presidents or Prime 
Ministers gone on their bended knees for his 
aid to straighten their tangles, his doctors would 
have forbidden it. I was in Paris, and on the 
day after Mr. Lloyd George had returned to 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

London I remarked to Lord Northcliffe : "I 
have read the report of the Prime Minister's 
attack on you, I feel sorry for him." 
" Why sorry, my dear ? " 
" Because I feel he has gone too far." 
" I don't mind attacks," the Chief replied. 
" As you know, I am used to them. But 
what does depress me is that the Prime 
Minister at a time like this, when every moment 
is of value in dealing with these world 
problems, should occupy the attention of the 
House, even inviting the young Prince to hear 
him, in abusing me. It shows the mentality 
of the Premier, and how he lacks all sense of 
proportion. No ordinary man like myself should 
at this time figure so prominently before the 
world. But there he is, bent on advertising me." 

Have politicians memories ? I often wonder, 
when I think of the favours asked and granted, 
but so soon forgotten. Listening to an attack 
on Lord Northcliffe in the House of Commons 
one day, I noticed a certain member's loud 
applause. It was with surprise that I recog- 
nized him the following day when he called at 
Carmelite House to request a favour ! Remem- 
bering his enthusiasm of the previous evening, 
I recalled it to his mind, and had great pleasure 
in showing him the door. Others more exalted 


The Real Lord Northclijffe 

have sought Lord Northcliffe. I remember 
many years ago Mr. Lloyd George himself at 
Carmelite House, and Mr. Winston Churchill 
on another occasion. Lord Curzon, even, did 
not disdain his aid ; I remember the pleading 
letters sent from Simla to my Chief, asking 
for his help. Lord Northcliffe was secretly 
approached from time to time by many prom- 
inent people, who urged him to expose the 
shortcomings of various individuals and de- 
partments. He was to " face the music," but 
they preferred to remain anonymous. If suc- 
cessful, they were to take the credit, if not, he 
could take the blame. How often I urged him 
to leave them alone, and tell them to take their 
grievances to their own superiors. That " sixth 
sense " which he credited me with served me 
well. I was able to discern the difference 
between the patriot and the sycophant. While 
I was returning from New York on the Aqui- 
tania, I had an invitation to tea from Sir James 
Charles, the famous captain, and the conver- 
sation turned upon Lord Northcliffe, who had 
previously christened the vessel the " Wonder 

" I admire Lord Northcliffe," said my host, 
" but I think it wrong that he should have 
so much power." 

" How would you alter it ? " I enquired, 
getting very interested. 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

" By preventing any one man from con- 
trolling more than one newspaper," he answered. 

To which I said, " If he had only one, that 
would become even more powerful than the 
many. It is a power he has built up himself, 
and you can no more stop him than you can 
the waves dashing against your own ship." 

He paid the penalty of greatness. After 
his death one or two small-minded people could 
not restrain their pens from belittling him and 
endeavouring to reduce his life's work to a 
business footing. These little souls who carped 
at him, what have they done for humanity ? 
Will their names echo round the world, and live 
in history ? 

It was for the masses he worked, not for 
the high-brow crank whose literary style may be 
so highly polished that only the surface can be 
seen. Lord Northcliffe's name will be handed 
down for generations, while the fame of these 
writers will disappear as ripples do on water. 

All the world mourned his passing, and 
tributes poured in from every corner of the 
globe. I was much touched by the letters and 
messages which came to me from friends, all 
dwelling on that irresistible and lovable nature 
which was hidden from the general public. 


The Real Lord Northcliffe 

He was so much to us ; we got from him more 
than mere employment, and the things that 
this world reckons as being worth while, for 
he gave to us a little of his own strength and 
spirit, and above all he encouraged us to love 
and work for our Empire. He was our best 
guide in life, and we, his staff, feel that though 
the lamp has burned itself out, it has left its 
glow upon our memories. 

Somehow we never associated death with 
our Chief, he was so intensely alive. At the 
funeral service in the Abbey, where all round 
were the faces of those who loved him, I felt 
the whole atmosphere was one of deep affec- 
tion. I saw friends whom he had not seen for 
years. But what touched me most were those 
loyal people who, even though they had been 
" sacked " by him, came to pay their tribute 
to his memory, many with their eyes dimmed 
with tears. As I passed into the Abbey I 
heard one man say to another : " If there is 
a heaven, Northcliffe is there." 

There has never been anyone just like him 
before, and there never will be again, and the 
world is the poorer for his death. 

B.C. 4. 


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